GLOBAL KITCHEN SERIES NO.8
Exclusive interview with:
Dr. E.J. (Evert Jan) Krajenbrink
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Please introduce yourself and your mission at the embassy.
I am the Agricultural Counsellor at the Netherlands Embassy in Japan from 2016. My mission is to promote partnership between Japan and the Netherlands. We have two missions in Japan. One is to promote cooperation in technology and to stimulate partnership between Japanese and Dutch companies in the field of smart agriculture such as Dutch greenhouses and milking robots. We have many experience in Netherlands when it comes to agricultural production. The other part is to promote export of food products to Japan.
The Netherlands is proud to be No.2 in the world in terms of export volume of agricultural products. Why is this?
Number 1 is the United States, and number 2 is this small country of the Netherlands. For many years, we’ve had a strong focus on entrepreneurship of the farmers. We are also innovation driven and are in cooperation with universities and companies to develop new technologies that help our farmers to become competitive with other countries. We are lucky because we are close to our export markets like Germany, France, and UK. We also have the advantage of having excellent logistic facilities like the port of Rotterdam.
Are there any inspection tours from Japan to your country or any agricultural technology exchanges going on?
In the last few years, there are many Japanese going to the Netherlands trying to learn from us. I think it started with the visit of former Prime Minister Abe in 2014. From there, many delegations came to learn about horticulture like greenhouse equipment. This is going on and I am happy with that.
What are the main products which are imported from the Netherlands to Japan?
We export meat especially pork followed by dairy products.
What are the features of Dutch food products that you want to tell Japanese consumers?
Food products need to be safe, high quality and good taste. In addition to these base values, we are in the control of the whole production process from production, transportation, and processing. This results in good final products. What is new in the recent years is the aspects of sustainability. We believe that the part of products should be sustainable. Animal welfare, care for nature.
What are your plans and strategies in order for your products to take further root into Japanese market?
In Japan, we take a step-by-step approach and work for several years. On one hand, we want Japanese consumers to get familiar with Dutch products like cheese, cookies, and waffles. But on the other hand, we want to promote Dutch ingredients that can be used for Japanese cuisines.
What is a typical Dutch dish or beverage?
We are second largest exporter of beer in the world. Others are cheese and herring. Traditional cuisine is not so familiar in Japan but the food products itself is becoming more famous.
Are there any restaurants in Tokyo where we can enjoy Dutch food?
LIGHT-HOUSE TOKYO in Kokubunji is not a Dutch restaurant, but it occasionally provides Dutch dishes*. Before the outbreak of Covid-19, it was frequented by Dutch customers to watch soccer and other sports games.
*Please ask the restaurant for details.
Any final comments?
Thank you for providing an opportunity to put Dutch food in spotlight. Food and cuisine in the Netherlands are developing. We don’t have a national cuisine, but rather international cuisine with a lot of influence. Under the pressure of consumers and NGOs, we see that sustainability is really a key development in the cuisine. Organic food, sustainable food, and vegan are new trends that I would also like to see in japan.
White asparagus - In the Netherlands asparagus are often eaten with ham, a boiled egg, potatoes and a melted butter sauce.
Boerenkool - Typically Dutch dish, featuring kale, potatoes and rookworst (smoked sausage).
Erwtensoep (Split pea soup) - Erwtensoep or snert is a Dutch version of pea soup. The soup is traditionally eaten during the winter season. Erwtensoep is a thick stew of green split peas, cuts of pork, celeriac, celery, onions, leeks, carrots and potato. Rookworst (smoked sausage) is added before serving.
Windmill pork at AJCA cooking contest Aug 2017